There’s no denying that we’re in the midst of a fast food revolution; not only are there more cuisine types and options available than ever before, but the ease with which consumers can access them is soaring.
Restaurant footprints are decreasing, and the takeaway giants are booming. This is not much of a surprise, considering 48% of customers are sold on the promise of fast delivery.
Efficient service is more important than ever before but demands can be difficult to meet when food needs to be turned around quickly, tables cleaned efficiently, and customers served faster.
So, how can commercial kitchens use technology, efficient planning and data to achieve the next level of food demands and meet the evolving needs of consumers?
Optimise your existing assets
If your current equipment is in a poor state and not optimised for your business’s needs, then you face an uphill struggle.
At best you deliver slow service, at worst, outdated or poorly maintained equipment could be the cause of a kitchen disaster, not only putting the livelihood of your business at risk but also the wellbeing of your staff and customers. A faulty oven or something similar is just not worth the risk.
Before upgrading, you need to establish what equipment you have? How can you move in the market and achieve faster service times if you don’t know where you currently stand? Kitchens have so many assets and equipment that it’s hard to keep track of.
It’s important to keep a register and inventory of all of your assets - ideally with a unique asset ID reference which makes it much easier to accurately report faults and monitor service activity.
By looking at this detailed history, you’ll have a much better idea of where you’re already gaining maximum efficiency and where you have scope to improve or replace assets with better performing equipment. This will have a positive impact on the supply chain, optimising it all the way to the customer.
Data can take you to the next level
One of the biggest benefits of technology in commercial kitchens is the opportunity for data collection, and the unique behind-the-scenes view that analytics can provide.
With the right software, you can analyse data to understand exactly how and where supplies are being used, even getting notified ahead of time when stocks are running low.
You can also gain better insight into what your customers are actually ordering, tapping into recurring trends to inform your ordering choices in the long-run.
When used correctly, equipment data can help eliminate some of the more time-wasting tasks, and cut down on the things that are taking too long - making your operations much more efficient.
Technology for efficient use of space
One of the biggest barriers to matching the efficiency of fast food outlets is lack of space. Many commercial kitchens simply aren’t big enough to cope with a high number of orders and quick turnarounds required.
With the reduction in restaurant footprints, the focus is now on maximising the customer experience, encouraging them to increase their spend when they do visit the restaurant and giving them a reason to return again and again.
Luckily, technology can tackle this too.
Many new equipment designs combine the different functions of multiple units into one, so you can utilise different cooking methods simultaneously and dramatically speed up cooking times. A reduction in equipment also means an increase in floor space, allowing you to process more orders in the same area.
Convenience is often more attractive than expense, so if your equipment is catering to these demands, it spells out good news.
Adapt to Fulfil the Customer Promise
Convenience is slowly taking over the world. But how can you fulfil a promise to your customer of fast service if you don’t know what you have on site, how to use the data you have, or how to optimise your space? You can’t.
In order to keep up with the demands of today’s fast food consumers, commercial kitchens must begin to adopt better technology and use their existing assets and data to inform their decision-making, otherwise they will fall behind.
The concept of the ‘connected’ kitchen is looming and with it promises of time-heavy tasks being reduced or eradicated, and so being clued up on innovation is more important than ever before.
The Internet of Things is coming, but not every establishment needs to be equipped with a fully-functioning smart kitchen. And most importantly, it doesn’t have to cost the world. An affordable equipment maintenance and support plan will be all you need to help set you up for success.
It’s a worthy investment, because at the end of the day, convenience and speed is simply too important to your customers for you to ignore.
David Khanna is operations director at Arolite, a provider of technical support and life cycle management for commercial catering equipment. He has over ten years of experience optimising service delivery within the industry.